Posted by Lenlo on 10 April 2019 with categories: Dororo

Hello everyone and welcome to the Spring season! While we are still preparing our First Impressions and picking what interests us, carryovers from last season are picking back up. That of course includes Dororo, which left off on a huge first cour finale. Lets jump in!

Before we get into the meat of this episode, I want to once more talk production. This was, honestly, rather weak. With lots of sliding stills and generally dull fights. With your main combatant being a giant statue, its natural that the fight would be slow. However multiple times in the combat it felt like nothing was happening, when they were fighting for their lives. I think this is a mix of the premise simply not being great for a fight, and MAPPA’s 2nd Cour curse. You see, MAPPA has a curse with their shows where production tends to fall off in the 2nd Cour. I don’t know if that’s just their inability to plan, or if its something else. What has helped Dororo a lot I suspect is that Tezuka Production’s have been working on it as well, lightening MAPPA’s load. Yet even still, this slipped through.

Now normally this is where I get into the actual story of the episode. However, first I need to go on a slight tirade. To put it succinctly, why the hell is Hyakki’s mother Oku still alive?! Seriously, it was a definitive and fantastic ending to the first cour! To leave her alive makes me, the viewer, feel cheated! Is Dororo saving her for another emotional outburst at the big finale? To have her love and be forgiven by Hyakkimaru? Considering how his entire family just abandoned him, as a unit, in the face of an army I hope not. It just wouldn’t work, and it would clash with Dororo/Hyakki’s relationship of a makeshift family. That Oku lives is a slap in the face to the viewer and in my opinion, anything Dororo does with her will be cheap. Her narrative role is done. Let her go.

As for the rest of the story itself, I get what Dororo was going for, but it didn’t work. It’s like they had their priorities mixed up. The theme of mothers, accepting what you have and not resenting what others have was fine. On the heels of Hyakki’s experience with his family, assuming his mother stayed dead, it was a good choice. It was a great chance to reaffirm/push Dororo and Hyakki as a family of choice. However Dororo spent to much time on the fight with the statue and not enough exploring its themes. Just throwing them up as they were and then moving on to the action set piece. It’s sad because the episodic content itself was fine. The idea could be a standalone episode, while still fitting into the greater themes/story of the series.

What I mean by that is the statue and the carver themselves. The episodic story of a demonic unfinished statue and its eternal carver slicing off faces is a good one. The Buddha can’t hunt people down so someone else must do so in its place. So while the demon is evil, the human/spirit serving it is doing most of the work. Then you have the added layer of the demon coming into being because of the carver themself. Whether they willed it into existence or it was already there matters not, the carver is the one who gave it form and power. Had Dororo more time to explore that character and that decision, I think the Thanosing at the end could have meant a lot more. As it is, we barely knew Okako and so had no real reason to care about her final fate.

Oh yeah, by the way, Okako being the carver was obvious from the start. I’m sure it was supposed to be that way, but the mid episode twist really wasn’t one at all. You could say it was well foreshadowed I suppose, if we were able to figure it out ahead of time. First off there was the blank face of the carver in the flashback. Hiding the identity is pointless unless the character is meant to appear later as a surprise. Then there is the whole theme of the face and Okako being able to change hers to the viewers loved one, plus a few other smaller hints. Like I said, its not terrible, because I am sure it was meant to be obvious. It just feels like a premise that would have done better as a 2-parter I feel. Really flex on Hyakki’s recent loss.

Finally, I want to talk about Dororo’s back tattoo, and why it exists at all. Like I get it, it’s another story point to drive Dororo to relevance in what is almost exclusively Hyakki’s story. But did we really need it? Some random mystery to go with Dororo’s already sad backstory? Is Hyakki’s parent’s leading an army to hunt him down while he recovers his body from demons not enough? Could we not fill a 2nd cour with that? I have hope that Dororo can fit it all together into a single cohesive story, I just don’t see the point to it though. Especially not if your keeping the Hyakki’s mother alive after her big scene. Your just adding another plot thread into an already packed narrative. Still, maybe they can fit it in naturally somehow. It’s really to early to tell, though I am concerned.

So all in all, how was this returning episode of Dororo? It was… serviceable? Disappointing even, and not because it was episodic. It feels like Dororo wasted a lot of potential this week. Going for 2 different things and committing to neither. Not achieving a grand opening fight for the 2nd cour nor a somber dramatic story to build off the mid-season finale. It’s a shame, as I was really looking forward to Dororo this season. It ended so well. But it sorta feels like it’s being torn in two different directions between Tezuka Productions and MAPPA. The sad thing is, right now, I have no idea whose is whose. I just hope we turn back to Hyakki’s family, as their drama is easily the most interesting story the series has.

2 Responses

  1. Avatar somedude says:

    Yeah, I agree this episode was rather subpar. I feel like pacing as whole was messed up from the beginning since they weren’t sure if this will be one cour or two cours. Hyakki got one body part back per episode at the beginning but now he hasn’t gotten anything back for five episodes straight :(

    As for the mother, yeah, it’s slightly surprising that she is still alive. But if my assumption about her becoming possessed by demons and Hyakki’s having to personally kill her for his body part become true, then I suppose she would still have a role in amplifying Hyakki’s suffering.

    The element I did find interesting from this episode is that Hyakkimaru seems to be more intent on slaying these demons than ever before. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hyakkimaru now wants to slay these demons less as a way to get his body parts back but more as a way to spite his family that rejected him. It could lead to some dark development down the road since there is constant reminder that Hyakki may end up becoming the very demons he fights against.

    Lastly, about that Dororo’s tattoo, I feel like it is needed to lend Dororo some plot relevance beyond Hyakki’s moral compass and sidekick. Plus, that was one of Dororo’s more important characteristics from the original manga so it would be hard to remove. While Daigo and Tahomaru would try to hunt Hyakki down, they probably wouldn’t be able to do much while Hyakki is away from their lands. That family drama requires some proper building up in order to lead to epic finale (just like the first cour)and we need some other plots in the meantime. Plus, given Dororo’s backstory, we knew Itachi is going to reappear in the second season as Dororo has a score of sorts to settle with him. If I have to guess, we will likely have a two parter of sort giving closure to Dororo’s personal story where that tattoo will come into play before moving onto the big finale with Hyakki, his family, and whatever demons that remain by then.

  2. Avatar SuperWooper says:

    The final fight against the Buddha felt like a video game QTE. Press B to stab statue in the eye, press A to jump away when it swings its sword at its own face, proceed to victory screen. Totally joyless.

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